Category Archives: food

Picturesque Perth

The reason for our visit to Perth was to meet our grandson Andrew, aged five months, and his mother Donna, who came from London to spend time with family there. Being a grandmother registers high on my reason for being, so we could almost leave it at that. However, let's look around picturesque Perth as well.

The reason for our visit to Perth was to meet our grandson Andrew, aged five months, and his mother Donna, who came from London to spend time with family there. Being a grandmother registers high on my reason for being, so we could almost leave it at that. However, let’s look around picturesque Perth as well.

A short train trip to the aviation museum at Bull Creek was on Iggy's must-do list. He was impressed by the collection of aircraft, including the Catalina, an aircraft my father flew during World War II.

A short train trip to the aviation museum at Bull Creek was on Iggy’s must-do list. He was impressed by the collection of aircraft, including the Catalina, an aircraft my father flew during World War II. We were also impressed by the train service – clean, frequent and quiet and a great way to see the scenery.

For me, food experiences are an important feature of great travel experiences. Donna took us to The Boatshed, an elegant restaurant on the Swan River. I don't usually have dessert. but was glad I changed the routine for this dish of creamy mousse encasing rhubarb, topped with sorbet and served with a swoosh of apple puree.

For me, food experiences are an important feature of great travel experiences. Donna took us to The Boatshed, an elegant restaurant on the Swan River. I don’t usually have dessert. but was glad I changed the routine for this dreamy dish of creamy mousse encasing rhubarb, topped with sorbet and served with a swoosh of apple puree. Delectable. Otherwise, Iggy and I ate on a budget. We recommend the $8 (Australian) steak and fried onion sandwich served at The Green Room at the bus station – about the only place open when we went looking for lunch on a public holiday. The slab of steak in the sandwich was generous.

Government House is representative of the charming brick buildings to be found in Perth. Right in the middle of Perth, the gardens at Government House were worth wandering through.

Government House is representative of the charming brick buildings to be found in Perth. Right in the middle of Perth, the gardens at Government House were worth wandering through.

While the shopping malls did not light our fire (similar shops here in NZ), the alleys off the main mall area were pretty.

While the shopping malls did not light our fire (similar shops here in NZ), the alleys off the main mall area were pretty.

Perth's sunny weather made a change from Hamilton's cooler climate. We were glad we had taken our Aussie hats (made in New Zealand!) with us.

Perth’s sunny weather made a pleasant change from Hamilton’s cooler climate. We were glad we had taken our Aussie hats (made in New Zealand!) with us.

We couldn't get away from the fact that watching Andrew learning to crawl was one of Perth's big attractions.

We couldn’t get away from the fact that watching Andrew learning to crawl was one of Perth’s big attractions.

- and I'll always remember those cuddles from a snuggly little man!

– and I’ll always remember those cuddles from a snuggly little man!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Breakfast in Brisbane

As we were heading from Hamilton, NZ, to Perth, Australia, it seemed like a good idea to visit Iggy’s daughter Amanda in Brisbane.

Amanda hosting us for breakfast at one of her favourite Brisbane cafes, Shucked.

Amanda hosting us for breakfast at one of her favourite Brisbane cafes, Shucked.

Street art on a corrugated iron warehouse wall forms the background to Iggy.

Street art on a corrugated iron wall forms the background to Iggy.

The café carries off an eclectic style. Beside us there was a birthday party, with the group seated on upside down plastic crates around tiled coffee tables.

The café carries off an eclectic style. My grandparents served condiments in little dishes – but probably not in a corrugated iron warehouse. Beside us there was a birthday party, with the group seated on upside down plastic crates around tiled coffee tables.

We left Hamilton at 2.30am and, expecting not to be served breakfast on our budget fare flight, had McDonalds for breakfast at Auckland Airport. We were then served a delicious breakfast midway between Auckland and Brisbane, followed by our magnificent meal at Shucked. Good thing that a hearty breakfast is considered to be healthy!

Amanda's Eggs Benedict.

Amanda’s Eggs Benedict.

Iggy's Ricotta Hotcakes. The strawberry season has not quite started in New Zealand so the strawberries on the side were a treat.

Iggy’s Ricotta Hotcakes with Marscapone. The strawberry season has not quite started in New Zealand so the strawberries on the side were a treat.

I was rapt with my choice - Huevos Rancheros with Chorizo and Salsa. Unspeakably good! Can anyone provide me with a tried and tested recipe for this dish. I would like to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I was rapt with my choice – Huevos Rancheros with Chorizo and Salsa. Unspeakably good! Can anyone provide me with a tried and tested recipe for this dish? I would like to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Almond croissants at the Sunday market

A sunny winter Waikato morning and a Volare almond croissant and mammoth Rocket coffee at the Hamilton Farmers' Market. Bliss.

A sunny winter Waikato morning and a Volare almond croissant and mammoth Rocket coffee at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market. Bliss.

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Sneakers and polka dots birthday cake

Last year, Aria’s Nana Chelle blew us away with the exquisite Teddy Bear’s Picnic birthday cake that she made for Aria’s first birthday. We knew we were in for another special surprise for Aria’s second birthday.

There were pretty "2" biscuits (or cookies, as they are called in the USA). Look at the delicate floral pattern on the numbers and the wee flowers.

There were pretty “2” biscuits (or cookies, as they are called in the USA). Look at the delicate floral pattern on the numbers and the wee flowers.

The little marzipan sneakers on the cake were perfect.

The little marzipan sneakers on the cake were perfect.

The polka dot cake inside the icing (frosting) was clever. Ball-shaped pink cakes had been cooked in a special pan. These cakes were then placed in the white cake mixture and the cake was cooked. When sliced, the pink balls came out as polka dots. So clever.

The polka dot cake inside the icing (frosting) was clever. Ball-shaped pink cakes had been cooked in a special pan. These cakes were then placed in the white cake mixture and the cake was cooked. When sliced, the pink balls came out as polka dots. So clever.

The birthday girl knew just what to do with those candles!

The birthday girl knew just what to do with those candles!

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Piako Gliding Club’s Awards Night

It had to happen. I am a feet firmly on the ground woman, but with my late father having flown 19,500 hours, two of my brothers heavily involved in recreational flying and my husband Iggy completely obsessed with aviation, there has to be the occasional post with a flying flavour.

It’s breath-taking how quickly Iggy can swing around all manner of topics into “that reminds me of a story” to do with flying. An invitation to the Piako Gliding Club’s Awards Night conjured up visions of a room packed full of Iggies, arms waving to demonstrate the phenomenal lift that came from a particularly good swathe of lenticular alto cumulus over the Kaimai Ranges or the death-defying speed with which they brought their gliders in to land at Matamata Airfield. Still, Kiwicommunicator must do what she must, so it was on with the lippie on a particularly inclement night, into the trusty Corolla, and over the swamps and plains to the Matamata Soaring Centre.

We had an excellent night out. Jan and Bill Mace can be credited with encouraging the club’s culture of hospitality and welcome. Newbies were pulled into conversations with old hands and – unusually for this part of the world – partners were included in genuine dialogue with the blokes.  I especially enjoyed the company of Geoff, who ended up sitting alongside me. We shared an interest in cooking, art and jewellery. Geoff and I exchanged info on where you can buy tiny containers of coconut milk so that you don’t have to throw out the remaining half can (tins of Trident stocked by New World and tetra packs of Dole stocked by Countdown). A manufacturing jeweller based in Cambridge, Geoff cast the beautiful bronze award that was sitting at our table. It does not represent any bird in particular, but flight in general. I could almost be persuaded to take up gliding to have that trophy gracing my living room for a year.

The trophy designed and cast by Geoff Taylor.

The trophy designed and cast by Geoff Taylor.

Jan and Bill spent the afternoon putting together the dinner for nearly 50 guests – roast meat and lots of vegetables (I think the kumara and beans were most likely home-grown by the Maces). It’s such a treat, as roast dinners don’t feature on the menu for just the two of us. It wasn’t just the predictable dishes, either. I went back for seconds of Jan’s tomato and aubergines with a crumble topping. A big thumbs up to the gliding club members who rolled up their sleeves to help carve the meat and clear away after the dinner. It was like a big, happy family occasion – a wide range of age-groups and the warmest buzz of conversation.

Congratulations to the award winners – and to the crew who helped them get there: the instructors, those who prepare the briefings, the tow pilots, and those who crunch the numbers and show such good stewardship of club funds.

Alan Belworthy has been a long-term stalwart of the club, serving as Chief Tow Pilot before returning to gliding to continue his award-winning efforts.

Alan Belworthy has been a long-term stalwart of the club, serving as Chief Tow Pilot before returning to gliding to continue his award-winning efforts.

Tim Bromhead was successful in Australia – the first New Zealander to defend his place as winner of the prestigious Trans-Tasman Trophy.

Proud winner of the Trans Tasman Trophy - the only New Zealander to win the trophy twice in succession - Tim Bromhead.

Proud winner of the Trans Tasman Trophy – the only New Zealander to win the trophy twice in succession – Tim Bromhead.

 

 

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Mothers’ Day high tea

This is my mother June. She was guest of honour at our Mothers' Day high tea yesterday.

This is my mother June. She was guest of honour at our Mothers’ Day high tea yesterday.

June is nearly 87. She was a feminist before feminism was fashionable. She was insistent that I should be the first female on either side of our family to attend university because she saw having an education as offering choices. She has strong views, many of which are formed from listening to 1YA. (The radio station hasn’t been called 1YA officially for years, but that’s beside the point.) She researches topics and presents papers for her colleagues at U3A – the University of the Third Age. She is a generous hostess, who insists on putting food in front of anyone who visits.

June’s thinking is challenging and frequently ahead of her time. She was a Playcentre mother when the Playcentre movement was still considered somewhat suspect by her more conservative friends. They were sure that we would all turn out to be quite undisciplined because we were children who were offered choices – “freedom within boundaries”. Family comes first. My son turned up at her place unexpectedly and unkempt and covered in paint from his work – and June asked her guests at the smart luncheon party she was hosting to move over and make room for him to join them.  He has a voracious appetite, but June found a way to stretch the meal.

June has four children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren – all very different people. However, there’s a distinctive bit of June in every one of us. Yesterday, we celebrated Mothers’ Day at the apartment of June’s second granddaughter (and my daughter) Victoria.

I made chicken, herb and pistachio sandwiches, which were popular. I should have made  more, as we ran out. Victoria's bowls of macadamia and cashew nuts and red grapes were  popular, too. In the background is a coffee set that my father brought back from Amsterdam over 50 years ago. No floral Royal Doulton for June. The coffee set still looks contemporary!

I made chicken, herb and pistachio sandwiches, which were popular. I should have made more, as we ran out. Victoria’s bowls of macadamia and cashew nuts and red grapes were popular, too. In the background is a coffee set that my father brought back from Amsterdam over 50 years ago as a gift for June. No floral Royal Doulton for June. The coffee set still looks contemporary in Victoria’s apartment!

I made boiled fruit cake, scones with jam and cream and my extra-special super rich chocolate brownie topped with cream and raspberries.

I made boiled fruit cake, scones with jam and cream and my extra-special super rich chocolate brownie topped with cream and raspberries. Okay, Ray McVinnie – I know you can’t eat camellias!

While none of my children or grandchildren live near, these glorious flowers from Sarah in the USA brought love and sunshine to our home for Mothers' Day. A Skype with Sarah, Ana and Rafa today brought me even more light and laughter!

While none of my children or grandchildren live near, these glorious flowers from Sarah in the USA brought love and sunshine to our home for Mothers’ Day. A Skype with Sarah, Ana and Rafa today brought even more light and laughter!

 

 

 

 

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Nostalgia High Tea

My friend has every reason to be so proud of her daughter who pulled in guests from far and wide for a surprise birthday high tea at Nostalgia in Ponsonby, Auckland. My friend was, indeed, surprised. We were all delighted to have the excuse to dress up and play ladies – and celebrate our friend’s birthday, too, of course!

Nostalgia has an atmosphere all of its own – elegant, dark, mysterious, and bordering on bordello. So sensual. Even the dashing waiter’s accent was exotic. The nearly 100 year-old building (and for New Zealand, that means seriously old) has been variously a shop with the shopkeeper’s home upstairs, a bar, and now a restaurant that serves banquet dinners and high teas. (There’s a whole lot of info on the Nostalgia website about high teas and low teas. Let’s not be too pedantic here and stick to the terminology that is generally understood.)

The waiter explained that we were to order two teas - a savoury tea to go with the savoury food and a sweet or aromatic tea to complement the sweet food. Pity we had all completely polished off the sweet food by the time the tea to accompany it appeared.

The waiter explained that we were to order two teas – a savoury tea to go with the savoury food and a sweet or aromatic tea to complement the sweet food. Pity we had all completely polished off the sweet food by the time the tea to accompany it appeared. Both teas I selected were delicious.

The food tasted fine. Perhaps more delicate servings would have suited the occasion better?

The food tasted fine. Perhaps more delicate servings would have suited the occasion better? I thought the teapot and teacups were stunning.

The washroom style went too far back to fit the term "retro" - or even "nostalgic". Definitely luxurious!

The washroom style went too far back to fit the term “retro” – or even “nostalgic”. Definitely luxurious!

Nostalgia would be a great place to book out a private room for a group of friends to meet for dinner. The room we were in had the atmosphere of a library in a stately home. Gorgeous.

 

 

 

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Feijoa and figs – fantastic fruit

Feijoas and figs are sweet and aromatic. It’s hard to beat a platter of walnuts and blue cheese served with figs and/or feijoas. I am assured by various websites that both fruits are rich in nutritious goodies as well – a rare contradiction to the old song that “if you it’s something you enjoy it is certain that it’s illegal or immoral or will make you fat”.

Because of their poor shelf life, feijoas are expensive in supermarkets. Even more vulnerable is the fig. The only place I have seen figs for sale is at Hamilton’s The Country Providore, the subject of a previous Kiwicommunicator post. For this reason, feijoa and fig trees were high up the priority list to plant in our small suburban garden. While fig trees are considered to be too large for suburbia, we plan to manage the size of ours and hope that, even if frequently pruned, it will continue to fruit. Feijoas are happy to be kept as hedge plants. We watered the little feijoa trees and the fig tree in our garden throughout the drought and are well-rewarded.

The feijoa tree.

The feijoa tree.

While the feijoa is not a New Zealand native plant, it flourishes here. The fruit are the size and shape of eggs.

While the feijoa is not a New Zealand native plant, it flourishes here. The fruit are the size and shape of eggs. The feijoa remains green even when it is fully ripe, so it can be hard to judge whether the flesh inside is past its best. Feijoas drop off the tree when they are at their peak of perfection. We are fortunate to be able to eat them the same day.

Yummy! My feijoas are on a dish from Morris and James pottery in Matakana.

Yummy! My feijoas are on a dish from a large commercial pottery company, Morris and James, based at Matakana.

Iggy protected our persimmon tree with the muntered umbrella covered with netting trick. It is just as essential to protect the fig tree this way. The birds devour the fruit just as the reach ripe perfection.

Iggy protected our persimmon tree with the muntered umbrella covered with netting trick. It is just as essential to protect the fig tree this way. The birds devour the fruit just as they reach ripe perfection.

Generally the figs don't make it inside to the bowl. (Bowl by New Zealand potter Peter Collis, and purchased at Hamilton's ArtsPost.)

Generally the figs don’t make it inside to the bowl. (Bowl by New Zealand potter Peter Collis, and purchased at Hamilton’s ArtsPost.)

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Zealong high tea

Having worked hard for most of Sarah’s visit from the USA, we decided it was time for a spot of glamour and steered the trusty old Corolla towards Gordonton and the Zealong camellia plantation.

Zealong has an interesting history. To precis the story from the Zealong website – A lush camellia grew next to Tzu Chen’s Hamilton house. A lover of oolong tea, Mr Chen was struck by the similarities between tea plants and the camellia. From this he deduced that Hamilton would be the perfect environment to grow oolong tea. With his son, Vincent, Mr Chen imported 1500 tea seedlings from Taiwan in 1996. Only 130  made it to the plantation. Careful propagation, however, has resulted in over 50 hectares of tea plants. The tea is chemical-free and processed to the highest standard.

Kiwicommunicator was interested to hear the story when the tea house opened. Zealong has become one of her favourite destinations for impressing visitors to Hamilton. The plantation tour and tea-tasting is informative. Being more into indulgence than education on social occasions, when I take friends and family to Zealong it is to sample their high tea.

 

Since my first visit, the entry to Zealong has developed considerably, with displays of sculpture of people producing tea and a magnificent row of sculptures of different teapots and tea cups, all showing the delicate Zealong logo.

Since my first visit, the entry to Zealong has developed considerably, with the road to the parking area featuring sculptures of people producing tea and a display of different teapots and tea cups, all showing the delicate Zealong logo.

The autumn day was  warm- perfect for sitting outside in the elegant setting overlooking the plantation.

The autumn day was warm – perfect for sitting outside in the elegant setting overlooking the plantation.

Sarah and I chose the signature high tea. We started with carrot soup and went on to enjoy delicacies such as a tiny beef wrap, a miniature fish cake, a sponge cake with tea-flavoured icing, macaron, rich chocolate square and panacotta with raspberry topping. Sarah's favourite was the miniature salad of baby greens with a perfectly balanced dressing. Every morsel was a delight to the senses (though we both decided Iggy would appreciate the ultra-rich chocolate square and took our piece home for him).

The menu has changed since my last visit. Sarah and I chose the signature high tea, with more interesting offerings than before and more generous quantities of food. It was a filling lunch. We started with carrot soup and went on to enjoy delicacies such as a tiny beef wrap, a miniature fish cake, a sponge cake with tea-flavoured icing, macaron, rich chocolate square and panacotta with raspberry topping. Sarah’s favourite was the miniature salad of micro-greens and fine ribbons of noodle and carrot with a perfectly balanced dressing. Every morsel was a delight to the senses. We both decided Iggy would appreciate the ultra-rich chocolate square and took our piece home for him.

I loved the baby kiwifruit garnish on the little sponge cakes and the fresh grapes.

The grapes and cucumber wraps were deliciously refreshing. I also loved the baby kiwifruit garnish on the little sponge cakes.

Every time I have visited Zealong, the service has been quietly gracious. This visit was no exception. Our waitress explained the different oolong teas on offer and left us with a spoonful in each of our cups. A pot of water was kept hot on the brazier at our sides and we could top up our tea at our leisure. It was amazing to see the tiny dry leaves unfurl.

Every time I have visited Zealong, the service has been quietly gracious. This visit was no exception. Our waitress explained the different oolong teas on offer and left us with a spoonful in each of our cups. A pot of water was kept hot on the brazier at our sides and we could top up our tea at our leisure. It was amazing to see the tiny dry leaves unfurl.

It's fun to dress up for a special occasion such as this. Didn't Sarah choose the perfect dress to complement the location?

It’s fun to dress up for a special occasion such as this. Didn’t Sarah choose the perfect dress to complement the location?

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Fairy feast for Easter visitors

Hamilton is at its best ever when our grandchildren come to stay – all the way from Portland, Oregon in the USA. As Iggy says “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood” so we had Jethro of JG Landcare Services create a fairy ring in a hidden spot in our garden and planned a fairy feast. I think the grownups had every bit as much fun as the kids. Kiwicommunicator says “It’s never too late to eat fairy bread!”

Our oak table, just waiting for Ana and Rafa's arrival. Jethro tells us the table should last about 20 years.

Our oak table, just waiting for Ana and Rafa’s arrival. Jethro tells us the table should last about 20 years.

A pixie sat cross legged on his toadstool.

A pixie sat cross legged on his toadstool.

A fairy flew in, as well. She especially enjoyed the miniature eggs the fairies left - quails' eggs from the Hamilton Farmers Market - and the mini marshmallows on a plate with sugar flowers and mini chocolate eggs. The fairies catered for all age groups as well, with mini hamburgers served in sliders and fairy bread cut with cookie cutters. The fairies even left fresh flowers scattered on the table. To add to the magic, nearby a monarch butterfly caterpillar was spinning itself into a chrysalis.

A fairy flew in, as well. She especially enjoyed the miniature eggs the fairies left – quails’ eggs from the Hamilton Farmers Market – and the mini marshmallows on a plate with sugar flowers and mini chocolate eggs. The fairies catered for all age groups as well, with mini hamburgers served in sliders, cherry tomatoes from the garden, and fairy bread cut with cookie cutters. The fairies even left fresh flowers scattered on the table. To add to the magic, nearby a monarch butterfly caterpillar was spinning itself into a chrysalis.

The best magic of all was playing with the fairy and the pixie. Kiwicommunicator is teaching Ana a song passed down through the generations:

“The fairies come in the night time

When everything else is still.

They slide down a ladder of moonbeams

Onto my window sill.

I lie very quiet and watch them

For fear of disturbing their play.

They sprinkle stardust on my eyelids

Then they fly away.”

 

 

 

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